Convergent Audio Technology JL2 - Ultimate

                                                                                                                                                 
After Audio Aero dropped their bombshell on me that
they were stopping production on their astonishingly
good valve amplifiers, if left me with a large hole in
my extreme top end range. I had the best possible
semi affordable CD player, but now no World beating
amplifiers. I asked Audio Aero what they were now
using to demonstrate their CD players and at the time
they were at the Berlin Show with Convergent Audio
Technology, where Stereophile, Soundstage and Enjoy
the Music.com all rated the room as the best sound in
Show. These amps were more expensive than I thought
the market hear could bear, but even then, they were
extraordinary value for money. Like the Audio Aero
CD players, they easily outperform other brands at
outrageous pricing. I looked far and wide and attended
the London Hi Fi Show, but quickly realised there was
no other option, so I applied for the rights to represent
them here, was accepted and so I become the 13th lucky
CAT Dealer in the world. I ordered the SL1 Ultimate
Pre, widely acclaimed as the world's best pre and the
JL2, widely considered the best stereo amp.

Since then they have designed, and are close to releasing a half size version, the JL-5
The performance of this "baby" was so good that it matched the earlier versions of the JL-2,
so an upgrade to the JL-2 was needed. By fitting the "All out" Input section from the jaw
droppingly expensive Statement version of the JL-3s. This made such a difference that JL-2 Mk 111
was considered inappropriate, so the JL-2 Ultimate was born.
I was prompt and have Serial number 3.



Click for Soundstage Review
Click for Audio Review
Click for Audiogon Owners fFedback



Philosophy is the most important aspect of any design, CAT's philosophy is to design their products to neither add to, nor detract from the
music. They never attempt to cover up a design problem with another problem, nor do they try to introduce a supposedly complementary
problem to "Synergise" with it. Two wrongs do not make a right. Only the eradication of the problem is correct.
The JL2 has been under development for more than 9 years, culminating in the "Ultimate" version. A variety of loudspeakers were used during this refinement process including
some that are well know for their ultra revealing nature and their difficulty to drive. The resulting amplifier is astounding in its robust dynamics
and effortless power, actually sounding bigger and more powerful than amps with much higher power ratings.
Yet it possesses a pure, natural character and clarity that surpasses the most refined low power amplifiers.

Power Supply

*The power transformers are enclosed in separate nickel plated steel housings to contain the magnetic field.
*The isolation transformer eliminates entry of AC power line noise into the amp, yielding greater benefits   than add-on conditioners without
 any of their sonic drawbacks or expense.
*Slow filament Power-Up extends tube life greatly.
*The quadruple Cascade Audio Power Supply uses time compensated zero feedback mosfets and vacuum tubes to deliver unequalled dynamic
 contrasts, transparency and sound stage realism.

Circuitry

*Power Triode audio circuitry produces tonal natural music by eliminating partition noise inherent in pentode   designs and the resulting noise
  intermodulation ("grain")
*Low feedback (about 7dB) properly compensated design eliminates the tonal hardness of high feedback and/or improperly compensated
  designs whilst yielding more consistent sound quality.
*Ultra-wide open loop in-circuit bandwidth of the output transformers enables operation of the amps closed loop response entirely within the
  open loop response, eliminating any requirement for the output stage to perform beyond its natural capability.
*Unprecedented stability into complex speaker loads.

Chassis
*The heavy steel chassis is reinforced with several welded beams for tremendous strength and elimination of low frequency vibration, yielding
  incredible bass solidarity.
*Constrained damping layer on top plate silences vibration before it can be converted into electro-mechanical noise.
*The output transformers are enclosed within their own magnetically isolated housings which is lined with Birch   plywood, one of the most musical
  woods, and potted in place with a combination of epoxy and elastomers for mechanical stability and control.
*Mechanical isolation from floor vibrations provided by high loss viscoelastic feet.

Convenience
*Mirror polished stainless steel maintains lustre and brilliance with minimal care.
*Single 10 turn master bias control per channel assures utmost sonic capability with minimum effort.
*Built in LCD meter.

Quality

*Exotic low loss aerospace circuit board material.
*CAT wire uses ultra pure dead soft annealed copper and super low loss insulation - 7 times lower than TFE Teflon!
*CAT coupled capacitors reduce electromechanical noise to incredible levels.
*Low loss core material has 92% less hysteresis loss than grain orientated silicon steel used in all other transformer coupled amplifiers, and almost 100
  times greater linearity.


 Specifications:
 Power 100 watts nto 8 ohms - class A
100 Watts into 4 ohms - class A
 Frequency Response 1 Hz to 65 KHz (+0, -3dB)
 Gain 30.6 dB (8ohms)
Sensitivity                            835mV AC for full power (8 ohms)
Noise 90 dB below full power
Power Bandwidth 20 Hz to 30 kHz
Damping factor   10
Dimensions 27" x 18.5" x 10.5" (L:W:H)
68.6 x 47 x 26.7 cm
Weight   180 lbs. (82kg)

Recent customer feedback.

I purchased a Cat JL-2 Signature power amplifier last year, replacing my Audio Aero Capitole 55 watts pure class A Triode and my Cary audio anniversary 805 power mono blocks. I had sold my Audio Aero first, and had someone in mind to buy my Cary amps as well. At first when it arrived from the States, it arrived in a box that was very big and well packed, and it took three of us to bring it in to my lounge. As I started undressing this monster amplifier, the built quality was exceptional. It was also solid and very heavy, and it would be hard for any stand to hold such a unit. Weighing in at 82KG, it was looking like an animal compared to my audio aero.

I was very existed to listen to this amplifier on my system. At first I read the manual and setting the valves as stated in the manual. I turned it on for are hour to warm up. But as I started listening to it, I was very upset. The bass sounded bloated, the top end was thin it sounded like sh…. But I kept on burning it in for over a month and still not happy. In my mind I wanted to sell it, but I thought who would be that dumb to buy something that sounded like this at this price range. I was pretty pissed off with myself for buying such are amplifier like this. I felt ripped off I started changing cables, and thinking of changing valves as surely something just had to make it work with my gear. But after burning in for over three month I started to be a little happier but to be honest, didn't think it was that good, especially for the money.

I've been living with this amp now for over 9 month. This amp will take a very long time to burn in, longer than any other audio equipment I've owned. It must be the over sized power supply transformers and all other parts. Reviews say the mid range on the cat JL-2 is its strong point, but they are dead wrong, because it's strong point is EVERYTHING. This is easily the best amplifier I've ever heard.

My audio mates and I have compared it to the audio research 210 mono blocks, the Halcro 68 mono blocks, the Cary 805 anniversary mono blocks and the Capitole Audio Aero and the Audio Aero Prestige mono blocks as well. Theses amplifiers are not cheap, but everyone in the room favored the Cat JL-2, being a far better amp than all the other amplifiers on the day. I understand why audio aero stopped making amps! They heard the cat amplifier and decided it would be pointless to make amps so they would be better to stick with CD players. This is borne out by the fact that they use CAT amps now when demonstrating their CD players at Audio Shows. In my experience Audio Aero make a fantastic CD player. (Together, they were voted best sound in Show at the Munich Show)
The Cat JL-2 would have to be one of the best amplifiers in the world, no jokes. Ken Stevens is a genius. The natural sound of the bass, midrange and top end is just perfect. I know I've said this about other amplifiers before, but this amplifiers soundstage is so big, it's unbelievable and it is worth every dollar. At first you will be disappointed, but once Burned-in you would not look at another amplifier, because there isn't anything close to it when it comes to sound. If I was ranking this amplifier out of 10, it would be an 11, no jokes. Try it for yourself.
The built quality is amazing, built like a tank, but the sound has finesse and detail, but will play all music, not just well, but fantastically perfect. Compared to SE amplifiers this will just kill them for sound. It has all the finesse of the best SE designs, but with astonishing drive and authority.
I never thought 6550 tubes could sound like 845s or 300 Bs but Cat JL2 will show you how good 6550 tubes can sound. If you just imagine the bass performance of a top of the range solid state amplifiers, the bass from the Cat JL-2 will impress anybody. It is tight and powerful, yet warm. It is just perfect. There's nothing this amplifier will not do. It doesn't matter what speaker you have when it comes to efficiency, the Cat JL2 will drive your speaker with ease. This amps got some real balls. As my friend Peter said, "this is a man's amp
Walter Moro [victorianpestcontrol@hotmail.com]

eXTReMe Tracker